An anonymous reader writes: “Some people remember Sealab as being a classified program, but it was trying not to be,” says Ben Hellwarth, author of the new book Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor, which aims to “bring some long overdue attention to the marine version of the space program.” In the 1960s, the media largely ignored the efforts of America’s aquanauts, who revolutionized deep-sea diving and paved the way for the underwater construction work being done today on offshore oil platforms. It didn’t help that the public didn’t understand the challenges of saturation diving; in this comical exchange a telephone operator initially refuses to connect a call between President Johnson and Aquanaut Scott Carpenter, (who sounded like a cartoon character, thanks to the helium atmosphere in his pressurized living quarters). But in spite of being remembered as a failure, the final incarnation of Sealab did provide cover for a very successful Cold War spy program.
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